Academic journal article English Journal

Midwinter Blood

Academic journal article English Journal

Midwinter Blood

Article excerpt

Midwinter Blood Marcus Sedgwick. New York: Roaring Brook, 2013. 262 pages. $17.99. Grades 7 and up. ISBN 978-1-59643- 800-2. Winner of the Printz Award and chosen for YALSA "Top Ten."

For people who think the best books are ones that leave readers with more questions than answers, Midwinter Blood is a trea- sure because it inspires deep thinking about per- sonal and group identities, pre-existence, reincarna- tion, and the effects of the past on present and future cultures. The book is made up of seven loosely related stories. Part One, "Midsummer Sun: June 2073-The Flower Moon," begins with Eric Seven, a journalist, getting on a plane to fly to Skarpness and then taking a ferry to the far north Blessed Island where during the sum- mers the sun never sets. Also, one side of the island is covered with a unique plant, which is brewed into a mysterious tea that is thought to help people live forever, but also to make them infertile. Eric's editor has sent him to explore "the facts" and come back with a feature story that will answer the questions that "the net" hints at, but fails to document.

Each story is named for a particular kind of moon. After the first chapter comes "Part Two: The Archaeologist: July 2011-The Hay Moon" and on through a story set in August of 1944, one in Sep- tember of 1902, one in October of 1848, one in the 10th century, and then the final story, "Midwinter- blood: Time Unknown-The Blood Moon."

The stories are separated by a double-page spread on black paper with a picture of white vines encircling something symbolic of the chapter, such as a hare, a paintbrush, or a sword. Because of our interest in how authors use names for purposes way beyond that of simple identification, we Nilsens loved the way that Sedgwick works with names. When as he debarks on the island, Eric introduces himself as Eric Seven, Tor, an older man who appears to be the leader, responds with "Seven? . . . One of the True Modern Church?" (8). Erik explains that his parents were "first generation converts, back in the twenty-twenties," but that they are probably disappointed with him because the name means nothing to him, except that he had liked the idea behind the re-naming. …

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